Brevard Zoo Conservation Report 2016 | Page 26

Adopt-A-Mangrove The tree of life Mangrove trees in Florida are vital to the health of our coastal ecosystems because they protect shorelines from erosion and improve water clarity and quality. Since the 1950s, the majority of central Florida’s mangroves have been lost to coastal development. That's why we initiated the Adopt-A-Mangrove program to help restore local mangrove habitats along the Indian River estuary in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (FDEP) Indian River Lagoon Shoreline Restoration Program and Marine Discovery Center. Mangrove seeds are collected locally, planted by Zoo guests and other community members, and cared for until the seedlings are ready to be planted. Adopt-A-Mangrove workshops include an educational presentation, where participants learn all about mangroves and their importance in the ecosystem, then leave with their own plant to care for at home. Gallery >D  id you know? Mangroves also provide food and habitat for more than 90% of commercial fishery species and more than 70% of Florida’s sportfish species (Lewis et al.,1985). 25